For the first few months of my newborn's life, when I was on maternity leave and had little to consume my attention except the needs of my brand-new baby, there wasn't a distinction between day and night. I couldn't count on a daily rhythm or routine at all. During the constant nursing, changing, swaddling, and crying (mostly mine), I was usually consumed with self-doubt. But in between the times I felt that motherhood just wasn't clicking, there were glimpses of hope. There were actually so many times during my maternity leave that I didn't want to end.
Maybe you're thinking, "Well, of course you didn't want your maternity leave to end! It's a paid baby vacation and you get to snuggle a cute baby all day!" But I need to be real about something: Babies don't give you a lot when they first arrive. They're sometimes demanding, or angry, or kind of distant, watching you through murky vision as if they weren't quite sure they were in the right place. It's honestly a very good thing they are so adorable and fragrant. If they weren't so cute, we would easily get frustrated at the lopsided nature of our relationship.
But then, just when you're either too bored or too frustrated to stand it, they do something — hold your gaze, or gum your nose, or respond to you with a squeal — and you feel this swell of love that nobody will ever be able to describe accurately. No matter the length of your maternity leave (and if you're in the U.S., it's probably brief), you hoard these tiny gestures, collecting incredible memories for when you need to draw upon their joy. As your return-to-work date looms, you don't take for granted a second of your time with this tiny new roommate. And there are some moments when you wish your maternity leave could last forever.